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It is rare to see Eminem do a collaboration album outside of the music that he made with D12, however he has done so here with Royce Da 5'9 to create Bad Meets Evil and their hit album Hell: The Sequel selling 171,000 copies in its first week and topping the US billboard charts. It is a very short album with only 9 tracks.
This album works for two reasons, and that is that firstly they are both excellent rappers. Of course Eminem is that much better with his flow but then he is up there with the greatest commercial rappers, and I can freely admit I hadn't heard of Royce before but he is also very good. Second reason is they have great chemistry. Some rappers just know how to bounce off each other. My personal favourite collaboration is Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg and their flow in the chronic and similarly Timbaland in the early days with Magoo. It usually works if the rappers are quite different and that is the case here. As usual I will review my favourite tracks
This is the track that introduced most people to Bad Meets Evil including me and is their first single release. I am a massive fan of Eminem as it is, so always love when he creates new music and this was right up my street. A hard beat, well produced and collaborating with an excellent rapper. As you can expect especially when singles are released Eminem is all over the lyrics and puns. A lot of it cannot be repeated here. To be honest a lot of it doesn't make sense, I think they are just trying to show off with how well they can rap with each other. The hook is pretty cool and just singing about living life in the fast lane. They flow off each other very well, singing half a verse each.
This is one of my favourite tracks on the album and is a lot closer to the underground rapping style that I enjoy. A soft beat with smooth percussions and rapping that works. The hook is a little random just a girl singing I want a Kiss, but it is very short and all about the rapping. Eminem sings about he is a jigolo and has no time for a relationship and just wants a one night stand as his bedroom has two lamps and one night stand so he needs another stand. Also about how Gaga can quit her job at the post office but is still a Male lady. Very subtle lyrics and Royce is pretty cool as well, but Eminem shines the most here.
Take From Me
This is one of those tracks that you will either love or hate. For me it is one of the highlights of the album and as usual Eminem shines the most but Royce holds his own. Instead of being like most of the other tracks where they share a verse, here Royce takes the first serve and then Eminem simply owns the second verse. They both rap about how people want to just take from them and never give back. Even though the lyrics is similar for both, when Eminem raps them it just adds extra weight that Royce cannot provide. Even the hook symbolises this saying that they give and give and that everyone takes and takes without disregard.
Overall this is a very strong album, and not one of my favourite albums, however hearing a bit of Eminem instead of waiting years for his albums is always a welcome change even if he decides to share the stage with Royce. I wasn't a fan of all the tracks here like Lighters, which was his second single. I am sure most people will like this track, but it is far too commercial. I mean they even collaborate with Bruno Mars. This really softens the track and turns it into a pop song and Eminem is most definitely not a pop star but one of the illest rappers alive.
Being a long-time Eminem fan, I've been aware of Bad Meets Evil since they made their first legendary tracks together, one of which ("Bad Meets Evil") appeared on Em's debut 'The Slim Shady LP'.
Anybody who is familiar with their original material knows that when together, they create magic. There's a certain chemistry and standard of rhymes and ideas that Royce Da 5'9" and Eminem bring out of each other that is often better than when they rhyme alone.
This chemistry and standard is no-doubt because both of these guys are very competitive (as is the nature of hip-hop itself) and are constantly trying to top each other's lines, in the spirit of friendly one-upmanship and lyrical excellence. All of the competitive and collaborative spirit these two form when as one, combined with the tremendous expectation following such a long-time since they've rhymed together results in a very solid release - a collection of explosive tracks packed with exhilarating rhymes and flows.
When I say 'exhilarating', I really do mean that. There are times on this record when the back-and-forth nature of Royce and Em continuing each other's ideas and lines and trying to out-do each other in skill leads to dazzling displays of rapping, look to "Fast Lane" for proof of that.
My only real grind with this as a cohesive album is the track "Lighters", and I think many fans feel the same. Both of the verses and even the intent of the song aren't even that contemptible but the inclusion of Bruno Mars' voice on a BAD MEETS EVIL album, sounds bizarre. Every other track is menacing or dark in some way, and so the hook sung by Mars just sounds insanely out of place, and ruins the flow.
That to me, is the only true blunder track and blunder of this album.
Some could complain that their subject-matter gets a little repetitive or doesn't mean much, but to me, this is just what I wanted. I've got enough tracks from the pair of them about life and strife to satisfy me - I don't want introspection when I'm listening to Bad Meets Evil: I want to be blown away with skill and lines, I want hardcore hip-hop, and this is what I got.
If you're a production fiend then I'm sure you'll get some satisfaction from the beats on this record too. They certainly serve the purpose and match the sinister and cynical undertones of the BME mindset.
My favourite tracks from this album would be "Welcome 2 Hell", "Fast Lane" and "Above the Law", but there are many other outstanding high-points to enjoy.
If you LOVE rhymes, flows and just pure rapping for the sake of rapping; for the focus on obsessive technique and being a smart-ass, this album is for you. Overall I think they pretty much delivered on giving us something to hold on to and some music of a caliber to last a little while. But I do think they can do better, in terms of concepts.
I'll sum up by saying this release hits the mark in most spots, and it's really just one track that sticks out so badly that it spoils the flow and shows a pure, pointless compromise. We know why they did it; they wanted to put more shine on Royce, and it may have done that... but it wasn't worth ruining the album's cohesiveness in my books. For Eminem, this is more shot practice, for Royce - this is a step-up.
I'd give the CD 8/10
Its been over 10 years now since the Slim Shady LP and the first collaboration of Eminem and Royce Da 59, from which the two would eventually name themselfes after, 'Bad Meets Evil'. Now here we are 10 years later, after much anticipation and patience, with the two reuniting for a full EP of new material, including two bonus tracks. Heres my track by track rundown of Hell: The Sequel.
Welcome 2 Hell - We open with a demonic beat, courtesy of Mobb Deeps Havoc, as Royce and Eminem interchange between verses in fast flows reminescent of both artists earlier, and more acclaimed work. This track is more a demonstration of what we can expect from the EP, an introduction that demonstrates both rappers talents.
Fast Lane - The first single from the Ep with a powerful beat produced my Supa Dups and Eminem himself. with comedic elements to both Royce and Eminems verses, along with a powerfully chanted hook from Sly, an artist reminescent of the late Nate Dogg, this single signals the return of Bad Meets Evil.
The Reunion - Produced by Eminem The Reunion, in my opinion the best track on the album, relies heavily on the demonic and psychotic voice of Slim Shady, Eminems alter ego, and a much more less understanding side of Royce, in order to create a story of murder and spousal abuse. Not for the easily offended.
Above the Law - The first of many tracks on the album to be produced by D12 member Mr.Porter. The Hook sung by relatively new female singer Claret Jai. Eminem and Royce spar with sharp witty and fast verses.
I'm on Everything - Again produced by Mr. Porter and featuring Mike Epps on the hook. This is a strange one to listen to and takes a while to get into, but again is rather comedic on eminems part , while royce opts for a more surreal styler of rapping. Don't dismiss it straight away as it is slowly grown on me to become one of my favourites.
A Kiss - Produced by, an uknown to me, Mr.Bangledesh. This is definately one of the faster paced joints on the album, as Royce and Eminem literally spar off against one an other in an intricate and amusing way. Another one demonstrating the talents of these two MC's.
Lighters - Ok this one confused me. Produced by Eminem and featuring, of all people, Bruno Mars on the hook! I may be biased because of my disdain for Mars but this track truly feels out of place on an album involving the subject matters of murder and rape that have been played with jokingly in previous tracks. Clearly this will be used as a second single and im sure it will do well. Its not for me but give it a listen anyway, especially if your a Bruno Mars fan.
Take from me - Mr. porter production again and Claret Jai with another emotional hook. One of the stronger tracks on the EP, and thats saying something. Royce particularly shines in this effort with his first verse dispatching a lot of emotion.
Loud Noises - Yet again a Mr. porter production, this time featuring the rap supergroup, of which Royce is also a member, Slaughterhouse. This one speaks for itself with all for members of the group as well as Eminem going in hard, creating what will literally be one of the best rap group joints of this year, maybe even next.
Living Proof and Echo are the two bonus tracks which leaked some time prior to the release of the EP, both tracks are worth a listen but in my opinion do not reach the quality of the actual EP.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Welcome 2 Hell
2 Fast Lane
3 The Reunion
4 Above The Law
5 Iâ??m On Everything - Bad Meets Evil, Mike Epps
6 A Kiss
7 Lighters - Bad Meets Evil, Bruno Mars
8 Take From Me
9 Loud Noises - Bad Meets Evil, Slaughterhouse
10 Living Proof